Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Stresses Diversity, Fiscal Probity in Cabinet President-Elect May Appoint Record Number of Women to Top Posts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Stresses Diversity, Fiscal Probity in Cabinet President-Elect May Appoint Record Number of Women to Top Posts

Article excerpt

IN President-elect Clinton's first string of appointments, he has sent carefully packaged messages about his administration.

He has taken care to mix these messages quickly enough and forcefully enough that no single impression can harden in the public's mind.

Thursday was the day of the deficit hawks, when he appointed his inner circle of economic policymakers. The choices made up in conventional stature, competence, and fiscal probity what they lacked in innovation.

Friday was the day of diversity and change. Mr. Clinton went out of his way to announce posts to be filled by women, even though they did not all fit his emphasis on naming his economic aides before today's big fiscal conference in Little Rock, Ark.

This round of appointments to important but second-tier Cabinet and staff posts was less conventional than the first in many ways. Mostly outsiders to the federal government, the appointees include activists and thinkers.

Two of them - Laura D'Andrea Tyson of the University of California at Berkeley as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and Robert Reich of Harvard University as labor secretary - are prolific authors concerned with international competitiveness. They both urge greater government activism in strengthening key industries.

The third round of appointments, on Saturday, included Clinton's first appointment of an ethnic minority. He named Democratic National Committee chairman Ron Brown, who is black, to be commerce secretary.

What is arguably the most critical post to the success of Clinton's presidency, his chief of staff, went to his oldest friend and one of the more nationally obscure members of his transition team, Thomas "Mack" McLarty, chairman and chief executive officer of Arkla Inc., a large gas company based in Shreveport, La.

Clinton met Mr. McLarty in kindergarten in Hope, Ark., and both men later became child prodigies of Arkansas politics. McLarty left politics for a fast-rising career in business, but he and Clinton have remained close allies.

The appointments of Mr. Brown and McLarty, falling on the weekend, naturally received less attention than the first two rounds, each of which presented clearer story lines for the evening television broadcasts and morning newspapers.

Earlier, Clinton had been expected to announce the appointment of Professor Tyson to the CEA chairmanship on Thursday. Instead, her appointment was put off until the next day. Whether by design or coincidence, that left a clear theme to Thursday's appointments. All of that day's appointees put a priority on holding down deficits and have extensive practical experience in government or business.

Tyson, on the other hand, is an academic without government experience who has in the past downplayed the significance of budget deficits. …

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